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FIRST AID FOR SNAKEBITES


 

 

This describes measures taken in the field to minimize the effects of the bite of a venomous snake. Very few snakebite kits on the market offer much in the way of first aid. A kit with a strong suction device has some merit in the field. Many hikers and campers carry these devices with them. No snakebite first aid kit provides a cure. Treatment at a hospital should always be sought.

Below is a list of do's and don'ts when dealing with snakebite first aid.

1. Remain calm and inactive.
2. Don't make incisions over the snakebite.
3. Don't constrict the flow of blood.
4. Don't immerse a limb in ice water.
5. Use suction device or mouth to extract some venom. If performed within the first couple of minutes, this may help reduce the effects of the bite. This procedure should not be performed by someone with ulcers of the mouth or stomach.
6. Have another individual drive to medical care for treatment.
7. If you spend a lot of time in "snake country", locate a physician with snakebite treatment before hand, just in case.

TREATMENT

Steps taken at a hospital or other medical facility to counter the effects of snake venom is called treatment. The most common treatment includes the injection of an antivenin (or anti venom). Injecting small amounts of venom into a horse makes antivenin. The horse's immune system provides a defense against the venom. The horse's blood serum is then used in antivenin and given to human bite victims to counteract the effects of the bite. Only qualified medical personnel should administer antivenin. There are often side effects to be considered.

Treatment may also involve care given to relieve swelling, tetanus or local tissue damage. North American pit viper venom (rattlesnake, water moccasin, copperhead) is primarily hemotoxic, acting to destroy blood and muscle tissue.

Copyright © 1991 by American International Rattlesnake Museum

 
 
 
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